The Importance of Fathers in an Age of GirlPower

Granted, Father’s Day is a silly holiday—a commercialized, homogenized Hallmark-fest of grills, BBQ, and “Best Dad Ever” coffee mugs. If it’s good for anything though, it’s good for reminding us how important fathers are in an era obsessed with whether or not feminism will finally smash the patriarchy. While not all fathers do a bang-up job of parenting, many do, and their presence and influence is vital to the health of our kids and society.

Feminism is more en vogue now than it was when it first became a movement. From T-shirts and marches to rallies at the nation’s capital and op-eds centered around “The Week in Patriarchy,” it’s morphed from an inspiring movement for gender equality into a dysfunctional rallying cry against men in general. If men aren’t being denounced for being patriarchal and domineering, they’re being called useless and stupid. Either way, they lose, and society would have us believe we win without them. Unfortunately, that’s false.

Though feminists would have us push women to the top of the corporate ladder and praise them for doing all the things fathers can’t or won’t do in the home, mothers are not the sole source of a child’s healthy development; fathers perform a unique and valuable role too, providing a broader set of emotional capabilities than moms would alone. Because of men’s different skill sets, they provide support and love to children in a different way than mothers do. Even from infancy, a father’s role is vital; often his presence offers levity, encourages the development of emotional intelligence, and creates opportunities for adventure. As a recent clinical report on fathers from the American Academy of Pediatrics noted:

The father is more likely to be the infant’s play partner than the mother, and father’s play tends to be more stimulating, vigorous, and arousing for the infant. Fathers were equally successful in matching emotions with their children (during social interactions, fathers were able to synchronize arousal rhythms with their infants just as successfully as mothers), but the quality of interactions (especially play) was more intense with fathers. These high-intensity interactions with fathers may encourage children’s exploration and independence, whereas the less-intensive interactions with mothers provide safety and balance.

So much of the feminist mantra encourages the view that men are either evil, domineering, clueless or offensive; popular culture often inadvertently endorses this view as well, portraying women (and mothers especially) as smart and capable and fathers as foolish. What kind of message does this send our kids about the fathers who are raising them? Another report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, titled “Fathers and Their Impact on Children and Their Well-Being” found:

Children with involved, caring fathers have better educational outcomes. The influence of a father’s involvement extends into adolescence and young adulthood. Numerous studies find that an active and nurturing style of fathering is associated with better verbal skills, intellectual functioning, and academic achievement among adolescents.

Caring, intentional, devoted Dads don’t just provide an alternative to the ideology of the feminist movement; they love, protect, and raise their children in a way that differs from women, balancing the often more nurturing, softer traits Mom tends to provide. That’s why, especially in an era obsessed with feminism, we need our Dads now more than ever.

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